Texas town that's run out of water was shipping it out just weeks before well went dry
In a Texas town of 1,100 people, the well has run dry. Now all the water needed for drinking, washing and bathing must be trucked in from other areas. But a new report has discovered that up until just weeks before the well went dry, the local water provider was selling off water up until the last weeks before the well ran out.
Spicewood Beach, Texas, has been enduring a drought so bad they've had to start trucking in drinking water on a regular basis.
Spicewood is the first place in what is a drought-stricken state to deplete its aquifer to the point that it can no longer draw enough ground water for its 1100 residents. But in an ironic twist, the Lower Colorado River Authority, the public agency that manages the water, was selling the city's water and trucking it out of town, even as the well ran dry. To be clear, there's nothing illegal or even necessarily improper about that. And it's not like they were taking it out to dump in the desert, either.
Mose Buchele, reporter for StateImpact, an environmental reporting project affiliated with the University of Texas in Austin, said the LCRA was selling the water from the town's well to water haulers, who resold it to homes outside of town, as well as businesses and construction projects.
"It's not an uncommon practice here," Buchele said. "It was happening very close to the point where the water runs out."
The LCRA is the actual owner of the town's water, not the city. So when these haulers backed up to the well to fill up, they weren't violating any rules at all. And they weren't paying a whole lot, either. About $32 for 4,000 gallons.
Buchele said there's a lot of confusion among the town's residents, a lot of anger, because the town must now pay about $200 for each 4,000 gallon load it imports to replace the well water.
"They're paying more than they were selling it for," Buchele said.
The current situation, trucking in water and paying high rates for it, will persist until the drought in Texas ends, or it goes on long enough that some other, long-term solution has to be developed.
The situation in Spicewood Beach is a first, but is likely not the only place on the verge of running out of water. The state estimates 13 public water systems will run out of water within the next 180 days, if something doesn't change, Buchele said.
"If we don't get rain soon we're going to see more and more situations like has happened to this one community," Buchele said.
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